Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights White

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

Wow, interest in this series waned abruptly, and once again I notice how much my motivation to blog is tied to getting feedback. (Which I still believe to be the norm among non-commercial bloggers.) Well, I had already started with this entry, so I finished it, but it just might be the last.

 

Army of Allah

Army of Allah Original

The biggest issue with this card is obviously its name. Aside from that, it would definitely be printable as is, although the restriction to attacking creatures isn’t especially white, and its power level is a bit below what we can expect – the staple card fulfilling this function nowadays is Fortify, after all. I actually consider another card the closest to an update, though, because of the religious connotations of the original, since it is tied closer to the color White:

 

Guardians' Pledge Original

 

Camel

Camel Original

Neither abilitiy of this card could be saved – banding is just way too complicated. Also, specifically referring to another card by name isn’t something I feel is good game design. (Okay, there is some merit in giving inexperienced players a direction in both limited and casual deckbuilding by pointing them that explicitly towards certain combos, but I still hate this, and it’s not what Camel does anyway.) Oh yes, and with my redesigned Desert that ability would of course be totally meaningless!

So, once again, I had to fall back on the card’s flavor, which is about helping your other creatures to survive harsh conditions. Actually, camels are themselves rather tough beasts, so I reflected that, too.

My design:

Camel2

 

Jihad

Jihad Original

That’s probably the greatest card name ever… on the causing trouble scale, at least. Apart from that, I’m not happy with this card’s mechanical execution. That is a very demanding mana cost here, and it is totally fine if an enchantment with that cost just gives +2/+1 to all of your creatures. Instead, though, there are no less than three disadvantages tacked onto it: The bonus only affects white creatures; it also affects your opponent’s creatures; and most importantly, your opponent (even a specifically chosen opponent in a multiplayer game) must have permanents of a specifically chosen color on the battlefield at all times, or you have to sacrifice your enchantment. That last stipulation alone makes this card essentially unplayable in constructed, but even in limited that is a real issue (in addition to that forbidding mana cost), since you will often attack with a superior force, only to lose your attackers after combat to your opponent’s smaller creatures because those take your stats-boosting enchantment with them if they all die.

I believe that Jihad’s mana cost is already enough of a hoop to jump through, and that it is also doing a fine job of conveying the card’s flavor all by itself in conjunction with its name. Note also that jihad is a religious duty which does not end with the defeat of an enemy (or even requires an enemy, for that matter), but needs to be upheld continuously. So I decided that all that was needed was cleaning this card up, and created a design for those limited environments where its mana cost can be supported at least by some decks.

My design:

Jihad

 

King Suleiman

King Suleiman Original

Hating on specific creature tribes is another misguided concept in my opinion. It makes for terrible limited play, and produces fringe sideboard cards for constructed at best. Djinns and especially efreets being rather seldomly used creature types (Khans of Tarkir block notwithstanding) doesn’t make this any better.

The origin of this mechanic is the Islamic interpretation of King Suleiman as the ruler over jinns, and I see no need that this rulership expresses itself in killing them. However, positive interactions face the issue that djinns, efreets and demons are just not white creature tribes in Magic, so I looked for other hooks. Suleiman is generally described as wise, wealthy and powerful, and he is said to control the winds, which gave me more than enough to work with.

My design:

King Suleiman2

 

Moorish Cavalry

Moorish Cavalry Original

This card feels definitely out of flavor for White with modern sensibilities, but in fact each color is allowed to have trample, although White is probably making the least use of it. Its power level is low, even for limited, but it is still a perfectly usable creature, and if there were specific reasons to put in into a set (for example, tribal synergies with its current creature type, knight), the only thing standing in the way would, once again, be its name. Apart from that, this design is acceptable as is.

 

Shahrazad

Shahrazad Original

So, this card is about playing a game within the game to reflect the concept of a story told within a story. No matter how adorable that design might look, it plays absolutely horrible. So, what to do?

Well, the story of Shahrazad is that of a young woman fated to get executed the next day, but prolonging her life by telling the king who would have her killed stories, which turn out so entertaining that he decides to let her live for just one more day, again and again. Now that is a concept which translates nicely into game terms, I think!

My design:

Shahrazad

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6 Gedanken zu „Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights White

  1. Max sagt:

    Shahrazad looks like a very interesting rare.
    I also like King Suleiman a lot.
    Jihad looks just right, considering Glorious Anthem.

    Regarding Camel, I would have preferred a 1/2 vigilance with this ability, so it can actually accompany a caravan and give support where needed.

    Another topic, that was brought up a couple of posts ago:
    Your Magic University.
    These articles are the single greatest source for Magic fundamental theory, and it would be horrible to lose all this information only because one site went down (even if a large part of the community is not yet aware of this potential loss or ignorant of its impact).
    Of course, the best case would be, if you invested the time to edit and update the articles and republished them – maybe on your blog, maybe on a commercial site (maybe even translated them into English!); but I realize just how much work this would be. I would totally understand if you decide not to invest the time; but, please, at least make the articles available in their current raw form; maybe someone will decide to work on them in the future – and even if no one ever does, the value of the information that can be gained, even in the current form of the articles, is immeasurable.

    • Zeromant sagt:

      About Camel – I don’t think attacking with it matches the flavor of a caravan that well. There has been warfare with camels, but if you use them for that purpose, then you cannot use them as beasts of burden at the same time. I also do not see a flavor connection between camels and the vigilance ability.

      More importantly, I wanted to show camels as being reasonably tough. With „Camel“ being the most generic name for this card possible, I priorized the match of its stats with real animals – the first thing I decided on when creating this creature was that it had to be 1/3.

      Lastly, it just plays better as a 1/3, blocking almost as well as a 1/4 for two mana. With a lower base toughness, it would not stand on its own very well.

      Magic University: Thanks for the kind words! I’m afraid, though, that you overvalue the usefulness of the raw text alone. In the end, this was a textbook series, and textbooks are very much about presentation, careful didactic buildup, and accuracy. With that gone (the latter two aspects because Magic has changed a lot during the last years), the texts would just not be functional anymore. I’m happy you remember them that fondly (and so do I!), but it’s your familiarity with them, as well as nostalgia, which fills up the gaps for you, while new readers would be confused at best.

  2. jashinc sagt:

    My interest hasn’t waned, I just found the last entries artifacts boring.
    This round is much better.
    I like the camel and your Shaharazad.
    The flavour text on Jihad is a nice one.
    Your King Suleiman doesn’t click with me though. The three abilities just seem random cause they are not really connected together. I feel to a legend with a lot of abilities should apply the same rules as to an planeswalker. There has to be some in-card-synergy.

    • Zeromant sagt:

      King Suleiman’s abilities may not read as if they’re connected, but the way the card plays is actually quite coherent – you accumulate small advantages over the course of the game while defending yourself. A bit similar to Courser of Kruphix, but with more emphasis on control than ramp.

  3. Rob Anybody sagt:

    Very interesting ideas on Shahrazad and King Suleiman!

  4. NTL sagt:

    Der Redesign von Shahrazad ist sehr gelungen, guter Mix aus Spielbarkeit und Flavor.

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